US Building Code (IBC) Allows for Flexibility in Podium Construction

Joe Alcock

The allowance for taller podium construction maximizes the use of space, while also reducing overall construction costs, explains Joe Alcock of McMillan Pazdan Smith.

By Joe Alcock

In the U.S., 12 states and two territories have adopted the 2018 International Building Code update, which allows for more flexible podium construction in multifamily building projects.

Podium construction—also known as platform or pedestal construction—is when multiple stories of wood construction are built on top of a concrete and/or steel building. In other words, separate buildings are built on top of each other in layers to form a taller structure than was previously allowed before the 2018 IBC update.

The vertical order of the construction materials used in podium construction is based on their levels of combustibility—wood, the most combustible material, is at the top, while concrete and steel, the least combustible materials, form the base of the building. In the event of a fire, the occupants in the most flammable parts of the building—the top stories built from wood—would have time to escape to the concrete and steel base that can take a higher level of heat and flames for a longer period of time without being destroyed.

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